MEET YOUR CHATTY CHATBOTS: 5 Ways in Which Chatbots are the Best Virtual Assistants

“Chatbots are the new websites, and messaging platforms are the new browsers,” someone said.

Personal assistants and secretaries have existed for as long as there have been people at higher posts in offices and companies. Whether it’s typing out a letter or sending out invites for meetings, they have done it all. While these jobs of helping out another person at work have ensured enough employment generation through the decades, we can all agree that these jobs are far from lucrative. The rule-based, repetitive tasks often tend to reduce people to two hands performing uninteresting tasks without applying their intellect.
So how about a personal assistant who is ever-willing to help – whether it’s setting your alarms or informing you about today’s weather; or simply raising your spirits with a joke or tongue-twister when you’re under the weather. Welcome to the world of chatbots, your 24/7 personal assistants!
We’re back with a blog, and today, let’s dedicate a blog post to our dedicated, diligent, and sometimes quite eccentric, virtual assistants. These virtual assistants have been around for quite some time now, starting with the first of their clan, Apple’s Siri. According to Go-Gulf, the number of people using virtual personal assistants has been estimated to reach 1.8 billion by 2021. Today, we have a handful of virtual assistants; including Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google Assistant for smartphones and Google home; performing a world of tasks for every day:

1.Your chatbots don’t sleep at work. And they’re at work ALL THE TIME.
Let’s face it. Human assistants must not be overworked under any circumstances; and they deserve their 7 hours of sleep and timely breaks. Ever observed Cortana or Alexa not in their seats owing to tea-break or simply because they have already finished the given hours of service? Your chatbots are never, ever exhausted. Whether you want them to carry out extensive research for your business, or entertain you with a poem on one of those insomniac nights, they are available 24/7.

2.Hundred queries, one assistant!
Life can certainly be chaotic and confusing sometimes. And don’t we all look for that go-to person to consult during times of confusion? But how many queries can even the most learned and well-informed person answer at once? Yes, let’s face it – humans do have their own limitations, and it’s alright. And that’s why we have designed virtual assistants who can perform tasks that humans generally can’t – such as processing, with unbelievable accuracy, hundreds of queries asked at the same time from a thousand different devices; and providing suitable, spontaneous, and sometimes even witty responses to every individual. That’s the beauty of Artificial Intelligence.

3.Chatbots are like chameleons – they can adapt themselves to every scenario!
As discussed before, humans cannot be everywhere; and different online platforms have been designed by us in order to facilitate easier and more efficient communication across the globe. With chatbots having entered the scene, the question arises as to whether these awesome assistants can be integrated to the vast repertoire of systems and platforms built by us over the years. The answer is a resounding YES! Your chatbots are like chameleons – they can easily change colour in order to adapt themselves to the environment they are exposed to. Thus, they set up shop at practically any domain; helping you with your queries and organizing sprees; your chaotic moments and phases of boredom.

4.No, your chatbot shall not demand salary on the 1st of the coming month!
While the job profiles of customer service executives and personal assistants have always ensured employment generation, these occupations, needless to say, function on salary basis. You cannot, and must not, hire a person with dismal or no income provided to him/her. However, chatbots do not need three square-meals a day. They are more than happy to reside in the software platform in which you place them, making it their forever home; and when you ask Siri or Google Assistant whether they have families of their own, their ultimate happiness is in serving you! Other virtual assistants and chatbots are no different. It is quite economical to maintain your chatbot; updating it from time-to-time and modifying it to meet the requirements of the given platform.

5.Human spontaneity minus human impatience = Chatty Chatbot!
Your chatbot can converse with you about almost anything under the sun – keeping the to-and-fro nature of human conversation intact, while also eliminating the negative aspects of the same; such as boredom and impatience. This gives customers a near-perfect interaction experience, where they are helped by the chatbots with great precision, regardless of the time of the day/night, and the complexity level of the question.
And last but not the least, chatbots can even be customized to entertain you in whatever rational way you deem fit – right from playing games with you, to reciting poems or jokes, and engaging in occasional situational comedy during the course of your conversations.

Artificial Intelligence can certainly make life more efficient in every way; and the ‘chatbot’ wonder is probably the best example of the same. However, chatbots go one step beyond the macro level of Artificial Intelligence, to include the benefits of AI’s subfield, Machine Learning; which enables them to carry out their tasks independently, without human intervention. In a lot of ways, having bestowed life on AI and ML, humans have created forces that are capable of performing unbelievable feats that humans are either totally incapable of, or require to invest excessive amounts of time and effort to complete. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is, after all, the human caliber and intellect that has led to such an invincible creation in the first place; and so, it is our responsibility to use our creations in as optimal and secure a manner as possible.

6 RPA MYTHS THAT TOTALLY NEED TO BE BUSTED

“Myths are a waste of time; they prevent progression,” says Barbara Streisand.

It is certainly no myth that Robotic Process Automation is the next big buzzword that’s doing the rounds in industrial, organizational and software circles. Dealing ostensibly with the designing and application of software robots and artificial intelligence workers, RPA is speculated to do away with the requirement of human resources for the completion of repetitive, monotonous tasks. Then will it affect the availability of jobs, leading to unemployment? Will RPA be too expensive for human race to handle? And is it really a long-term thing, or just another transient fad? Hang on with those questions, as we are back with a blog, to bust some of the biggest myths of RPA:

1) Is my job at risk?
If humans were meant to only engage in uninteresting, repetitive and monotonous tasks that do not challenge one’s intellectual faculties in any way, then RPA might probably pose a risk to your job. But again, were that the case, RPA would never have been designed at all.
Yes, robots might probably lead to dearth of stagnant jobs in the corporate and other sectors. But let’s face it, humans are much more than just a pair of hands doing unstimulating jobs. With RPA, your mundane, boring tasks will be taken care of on a daily basis, while you invest your mind and heart in more challenging sectors, such as production, communications, creativity etc. Lastly, let’s not forget that even robots are made by humans; and as a result, they will continue to require human intervention in order to be manufactured, and assigned to various day-to-day tasks.

2) Will RPA cause a hole in our pockets?
Let’s consider, for a moment, some examples of projects at various stages of inception and development – building industrial complexes, setting up start-up companies, building and establishing brands…all important projects cost significant amounts of money. But this obviously does not (and should not) deter humans from developing these ideas. The same is the case with RPA. Having said that, while RPA’s initial inception costs may be somewhat high, it can be extremely cost-effective once it is applied to day-to-day situations. If we were to compare RPA with other traditional practices like business process outsourcing or offshore manual processing, RPA would win hands down in terms of maximum cost reduction.

3) So if the application of RPA is not an expensive process, are we adopting this technology only to reduce costs?
A myth quite converse to myth number 2 opines that RPA is used only to ensure cost reduction. To resolve this myth, let’s consider the difference between robots and humans. No two humans can be exactly the same (not even identical twins!); and thus, not only two humans performing the same task, but also the same human performing the task at different times, tend to produce different outcomes. In contrast, robots are an asset to organizations in that they are consistent in producing the same outcomes every single time. So yes, quality and speed with regard to the task at hand are also other major advantages of RPA, besides cost reduction.

4) Wow! So robots are nothing less than Utopian, are they?
Okay, wait. Ever been exasperated by ‘404, Page not found’? Which means software can commit errors, too. Robots are no different. Yes, if programmed to perfection, robots can be perfect. And this reiterates the fact that robots are what they are designed to be. So if a human commits errors while developing these robots, they are bound to have imperfections.

5) But…really, RPA in all domains?
Well, the answer is…yes. No matter how creative or abstract a job may be, every job, at some stage or the other, consists of some amount of concrete, monotonous tasks. And as long as there are repetitive tasks, there will, and should, be robots.

6) So RPA, my friends, is the be-all end-all of everything! Err…is it?
This myth, if not busted, shall remain as the biggest and falsest myth of all. While RPA can do your day-to-day boring tasks, its purpose is NOT to replace human labour, but only to make it more efficient. Your robots do certain not-so-challenging tasks for you, so that you can invest your time and efforts into doing other greater things. Like…may be; design another robot?

WELCOMING DIGITAL EDUCATION: How Digitization is Transforming the Education Sector Today

With the advent of modern technology and a communication revolution of sorts, the world is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking till it all gets compressed into your phone. And amidst all this hullabaloo, can the education sector stay far behind?
From Gurukuls and Ashrams to schools and classrooms to Udemy and Coursera, education has come a long way. A decade ago, the sight of blackboards and chalks and dusters and worksheets was more common than it is now; and it’s no surprise that it might be an even rarer phenomenon in the next decade. A lot of philosophers have often reiterated the oneness of the entire world, and the universality of existence. The emergence and establishment of e-learning and virtual classroom has ensured the practical implementation of this idea. Today, teaching has become a way more flexible and virtual phenomenon, where teachers are earning double the amount while teaching with the same zest and passion, while students are able to access the educational content at their convenience, as opposed to having rigid timetables to abide by. According to Learndash, approximately 4.6 billion students are taking at least one online course today. On that note, here are some of the defining features of digitization in education:

1) ATE (Any Time Education): The limitless reach of e-learning has ensured that teachers and students hailing from extremely diverse backgrounds can interact and hold discussions, and the ocean of knowledge can transcend all boundaries of geographical locations and time-zones.

2) Say goodbye to that ‘AB’ marking: Teachers can safely bury their thick attendance registers. With e-learning, absenteeism and truancy can be monitored and reduced, since teachers can upload and students can view their content as per their convenience. The teacher’s sick leave, or the student’s day out will not affect the education process.

3) They learn more, you earn more: Across the globe, teaching has always been regarded as a noble profession, but a thankless job. With e-learning, teaching continues to be as noble as ever, only with the teacher being rewarded handsomely for his/her efforts. Teachers can now earn double their usual amount, while teaching with the same zest.

4) Now, no more “raise hand to answer”! – With many e-learning platforms offering discussion panels and internal chat facilities, classrooms discussions could never have gotten easier and less chaotic. Enjoy peaceful discussions in your online classroom today.

5) Three hours of lectures, five hours of travel? Not anymore. E-learning helps you get somewhere, without going anywhere for it. You may be at home, inside a café, at your hometown…doesn’t matter. Teachers and students can operate from anywhere.

6) Learn while you earn! – As a busy employee, e-learning values the employee’s lack of time, and need for further development. And so, organizations and industries can train and educate employees using e-learning.

While e-learning has received an overwhelming response across the globe, and is rewriting the age-old definitions of education, personal contact and face-to-face interactions are still of immense value and relevance in today’s era. It’s probably best to conclude with the golden words of Professor Pierre Dussauge:

“The beauty is in finding the right balance between online and in-class learning, and the best way to make progress is to experiment with different combinations.”

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